Spain represented by the Repsol Honda duo of Toni Bou and Jaime Busto were the worthy winners of the 2017 FIM X-Trial des Nations held in Pau, France. After two laps of six sections the formidable pairing ran out easy victors to register Spain’s eleventh consecutive success in this team competition. Great Britain’s combination of James Dabiil – Gas Gas and Jack Price - Gas Gas survived a disastrous second lap to claim the runners-up spot just a single mark ahead of France’s duo of Alexandre Ferrer – Sherco and Benoit Bincaz – Scorpa.
Confirming the prominence of tonight’s triumph Bou said. “It is a special feeling to be able to win this title alongside my team mate as we have a very close and special relationship. These type of events are never easy to win and you can see Great Britain were very close to us after the first lap. Thankfully our best riding came at the important moment and we were able to extend our advantage. Every victory is important and tonight it is the same for me.”
Franz Kadlec - Gas Gas and Jarmo Robrahn - Beta late capitulation gifted Italy’s pairing of Matteo Grattarola - Gas Gas and Luca Petrella - TRS fourth position, leaving Germany down in fifth place after a promising opening lap performance.
Five nations were represented in Pau, those being Spain, Great Britain, France, Italy and Germany - each squad consisting of two riders with one team member having to be under the age of twenty-five as the new eligibility rule was applied for the second year in a row.
The night’s action got underway with each of the five teams putting one of their two riders forward to contest the speed section that would ultimately decide the riding order through the six observed hazards. Not surprisingly Spain recorded the fastest time to steal an early advantage, with France being the next quickest just in front of Great Britain. Germany and Italy filled the remaining two places respectively ahead of the main event.
With the respective team managers having decided which three of the six sections each rider would attempt on the first lap, there was to prove to be several twists and turns during the initial tour with the real story only becoming clear later in the lap. Busto gave Spain an early scare as he lost three marks in the opening rocky hazard before then recovering brilliantly with two subsequent cleans before handing over to Bou who was typically faultless.
Great Britain proved to be Spain’s nearest challengers on lap one with Dabill losing two marks to add to Price’s tally of four, their total of six putting them three marks behind their Spanish rivals at the halfway point. France’s duo completed the interim podium places with Germany maintaining their supremacy over the Italian pairing come the interval.
Any thoughts of an upset rapidly faded on the second lap as the Spanish pairing confirmed their superiority with another lap of just three marks, whilst the other nations all suffered heavier losses on their later outing with the exception of Italy who delivered a vastly improved showing.
Great Britain did their best to throw away second spot, but finally clung on to the runners-up placing by a single mark as France closed in on them, but had to settle for the final step of the podium. At the same time as Germany faded, Italy grew stronger and managed to steal fourth position from their Northern European rivals.
With the 2017 X-Trial season, both individual and team, having now come to a climax all attentions now switch to the outdoor series with the 2017 FIM Trial World Championship set to kick off in Camprodon, Spain towards the middle of next month.